I was conducting Torah study in Waco, Texas, when one of the participants received a news flash on his phone. There was a shooting in a synagogue in Pittsburgh. We all stopped to catch our breath for a minute.


Monica J. O’Desky

As details came out, we looked around at each other. There were maybe 15 of us in a room, unarmed, unguarded. Was this the first of a series we wondered, thinking back
to 911 when just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, it did. The death toll numbers
started climbing; first single digits, then double. The inevitable questions of who, why.

The reason for the gathering of people in Pittsburgh was a brit milah, a ritual event to welcome a baby boy into the world. In attendance were friends, family, parents, grandparents, all sharing in the ritual to welcome another life into the community and into the world. The murderer was a white supremacist who chose the Tree of Life Synagogue for one reason..it contained Jews. Eleven people died in this attack, others injured.

A City-wide Night of Prayer, Remembrance, and Unity will be held at Congregation Ahavath Sholom Thursday, 4050 S. Hulen in Fort Worth, at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 1. All are welcome.

All lives lost create a void, a hole in this world, but one in particular stands out to me–Rose Mallinger, a 97-year-old survivor of the concentration camps. Lucky enough to survive and live out her life in America, to be killed. Here. In
America. Because once again there was a man who did not like Jews. As if this event is not difficult enough for all of us to bear, both in and outside the Jewish community, there are people attempting to twist the deaths of these people into a political statement for their own selfish purposes.

I am not sure if the greater evil is done by the murderer or by those holding up the murders for their own agenda. The Jewish community in Abilene mourns the deaths of these people. It mourns the death of the feeling of security by sitting in your own congregation, wherever it may be, to celebrate a simcha, a happy occasion, with those you love. It mourns the death of civil conversation that allows people of different faiths and different beliefs to seek commonalities. It mourns the loss of the shelter we have attempted to place around our children.

And after we have spent so many years saying “Never Again,” it mourns…again. May their memories be for a blessing.

Monica J. O’Desky is the cantor for Temple Mizpah in Abilene.


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